EC Info

WHAT IS EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION?

Sometimes referred to as the “morning after pill,” emergency contraception (EC) is a safe and effective method of birth control that can prevent pregnancy after sex. EC is not the abortion pill. It will not work if you are already pregnant. It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections or HIV/AIDS.

HOW DO YOU USE EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION?

EC can be used if you had unprotected sex in the past 5 days. You can use EC if:

you didn’t use birth control
you were late with your regular method
the condom broke 
you were forced to have unprotected sex

It is important to take action as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Plan ahead: keep EC at home and be prepared.

There are five brands of EC (Plan B® One-Step, Next Choice One Dose®, My Way®, Levonorgestrel tablets and ella®) approved for pregnancy prevention in the United States. Click here to view a chart for more information on all five of these these products.

The Copper-T intrauterine device (IUD) can also be used as EC if inserted by a health care provider within 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex. An IUD is a small, T-shaped plastic device that is much more effective than EC pills at preventing pregnancy over the 120 hour window. Once inserted, you can also continue to use the IUD as an ongoing method of birth control for up to 10 years. For more information on the IUD, visit www.MaybeTheIUD.org.

Understand your options and take the method that’s best for you. 

HOW DOES EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION WORK?

EC can prevent pregnancy by delaying or inhibiting ovulation. It may also inhibit fertilization.

ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS?

There are no long-term or serious side effects with EC pills or the IUD. However, some women may experience minimal side effects. With EC pills, these may include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, or breast tenderness. These side effects should subside within one or two days. EC pills may also affect the timing of your period. Side effects of the IUD may include increased cramping and/or heavier bleeding during your period over time.

EC pills and the IUD will not have any long-term or adverse effects on your ability to become pregnant in the future.

WHERE CAN YOU FIND EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION?

Women and men of any age can purchase Plan B One-Step® emergency contraception without ID. Women and men ages 17 or older can buy Next Choice One Dose®, My Way®, and Lenovorgestrel tablets at a pharmacy without a prescription. Women ages 16 or younger still need a prescription from a health care provider in order to buy Next Choice One Dose®, My Way®, and Lenovorgestrel tablets at a pharmacy.

ella® is available by prescription to women of all ages. Call ahead to make sure that your pharmacy has ella® in stock, or order ella® online at http://www.ella-kwikmed.com.

If you are age 16 years or under, if you don’t have government issued identification, or if you cannot afford the price of EC at the pharmacy, you can still access emergency contraception.  There are clinics that provide free or low-cost EC regardless of your age, immigration status or whether or not you have health insurance, including community health centers, Planned Parenthood, private doctors’ offices, hospitals, and college health centers (usually for students only) throughout the state. Many clinics or local pharmacies will be able to provide EC at a walk-in visit. Call the nearest clinic or pharmacy before a visit to check their hours of operation and to find out whether you will need an appointment and what paperwork you should bring to your visit.

Locate where to purchase EC in your area using these online resources:

Not-2-Late
Bedsider

For more information on where you can access EC in New York State, visit the Department of Health’s list of Family Planning Program sites by county here.

Contact your health care provider or local family planning clinic for more information on where to get an emergency IUD insertion. You can also call your insurance company to find out what IUD services they will cover.

The Back Up Your Birth Control campaign is a project of the National Institute for Reproductive Health.

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